Counseling for the Soul in Distress: What Every Pastoral Counselor Should Know About Emotional and Mental Illness

by Richard W. Roukema. Routledge, 2003.

Clinical psychologist Richard Roukema understands the common roles played by clergy and psychiatrists who care for congregants struggling with mental and emotional illnesses. He appreciates the spiritual dimension of healing as an integral part of care for the emotionally distressed religious patient. This book examines the history of psychiatry, addresses current research into brain chemistry, and discusses the success of modern medicine to correct or control symptoms of mental disorders.

Roukema systematically addresses a wide range of mood disorders, neuroses, personality disorders and traits, sexual and eating disorders, and the effects of loss and stress. He provides clear and useful information aimed at giving clergy the necessary tools to recognize and understand the care and treatment that might be appropriate for the affected person. He consistently points to ways the clergy can most effectively provide support and resources for the patient and family. Issues of pastoral ethics, as well as self-care, are addressed. Roukema concludes with guidance in the referrals of patients.

What could have been a voluminous text filled with medical jargon and little contact with the role of clergy turns out to be a concise, yet thorough, educational and reference book that deserves a special place on the bookshelf of pastors and counselors alike. Seminaries would do well to consider using this text in courses on pastoral care and counseling.